Dec 17 2023 It Happened Once  John 1:6-28

Today’s Gospel was a long one. However, some of the most important powerful verses in Scripture is found in the first five verses. 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The first two verses,In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God were the first verses I leaned to translate from the Greek when in college. I could preach a whole series on these verses but we are not examining these verses today.

All of us have our opinions and things that we like or dislike. The perspective that we have in life is based on so many individual experiences, challenges and opportunities. No two people have the same perspective, but we perhaps have similar general perspectives of life. Perhaps you may fall into one of these perspectives.

One group of people sees all of life as happenstance. Things happen for no particular reason, and if there is a god, that god is not actively involved in the everyday situations of life.

Another group feels that their lives are controlled by outside forces, and that they are living out their destiny. They consult horoscopes, tarot cards, palm readers and crystal balls in order to determine what their destiny is.

Some people believe that history repeats itself over and over again. Being a historian, I tend to believe that if we do not know our history we are bound to repeat it. Though this is not the most helpful or accurate view of life, there does seem to be some circumstantial evidence on both a world level and a personal level to validate it.

Though these are widely held beliefs, none of them are Biblical. The Bible sees life as moving toward a specific goal—the establishment of God’s kingdom. Though we may struggle with the paradox of God’s will and human free will, we still emphasize that history and life has meaning, purpose and direction. This is no more clearly seen than in the life of John the Baptist.

The first chapter of John’s gospel celebrates the incarnation of God as Jesus Christ. “The Word became flesh,” John writes, “and dwelt among us.” In the middle of this proclamation, up pops John the Baptist. “There was a man sent from God whose name was John.

The key word in this verse is sent. God sent John. When a person is sent, there is usually a plan. The person is sent to a specific place at a specific time for a specific purpose. And thus it was for John. At just the right time, John appeared on the scene. John came to a specific place—the Judean wilderness and his specific purpose was to be a witness and prepare the way for the coming Messiah.

John was not the only person in the pages of the Bible to be sent. Abraham, Moses, Joshua, the Judges, David, the prophets, and the disciples all sensed that they lived in a critical time and that they had a specific purpose and direction to their lives.

This is true of all Christians. Each and every one of us is here at this specific time and place for a specific and unique purpose. We live in denial of this truth. We may run away from it’s reality in our lives, but that doesn’t make it any less true. We have been saved for a purpose. Part of the maturing process for Christians is not only to discern God’s will for us, but also to yield to that will, and commit ourselves to live in it.

John was sent to be a witness. He was not sent to be a salesman, nor was he sent to be a defense attorney. John’s simple task was to be a witness. A witness is a person who tells what he or she has seen and heard as accurately as possible.

The purpose of John’s witness was so that people might believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

John is a focused, determined witness. The priests and Levites wanted to get him into a theological argument. “What right have you,” they asked, “to baptize if you are not the Messiah, Elijah or the prophet.” John did not take their bait. Instead John witnessed to Jesus, “There is one among us, who you do not know.”

We, you and me have been sent, like John. Though our individual talents and abilities enable us to carry out our calling in a unique way, we all have the task of being a witness. The goal of our witness is, also, the same—that people might believe and place their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

This may not be a widely held belief in Christianity, but it is the truth. This truth does not mean that we leave life and enter a monastery, nor does it force us to take a full time job as a professional evangelist. This truth does enable us to see ourselves in a new light and to see our vocations, our leisure activities, of family times, and the times when we talk to the stranger sitting next to us on a plane as ways to carry out our calling to be God’s witnesses.

We bear witness to the same story that Christians have told for centuries—God so loved the world that a savior was born in Bethlehem.

Jesus lived in Israel and ministered for three years to the people. He healed the sick, cast out demons, fed the hungry, and proclaimed that the kingdom of God was near. This same Jesus was rejected by the religious authorities. He was crucified—dying in order that we might be set free from our sins.

Jesus conquered death and was resurrected after three days. Because of him we have new life—eternal life. Jesus also continues to live in our lives. He gives us courage and strength. He answers our prayers, and empowers us to serve him.

This is a simple story, but has had a profound effect history, the world and our lives.

There are times when things seem so out of control that we can’t believe they have any purpose behind them. At other times our struggles tempt us to believe that God doesn’t care and is not involved in our lives.

However, is that we are sent to be witnesses so that people might believe. Living in this reality is how we are watchful and how we prepare for Christmas and the promised coming of Jesus.